Pork Barrel and Memphis open; who has the D.C. area’s best ‘cue?


The hickory-fired grill at Crystal City restaurant Memphis. (Justin Rude/The Washington Post)

But first, with these recent additions to Washington’s diverse barbecue scene, it’s high time to take the temperature of the area’s barbecue fans — as one would do every hour with a slowly smoking pork shoulder — to see which purveyor is carving up the best cuts. Because whether it’s Texas, Memphis, Kansas City or Carolina, at the end of the day, all we’re looking for is a tasty piece of meat. Vote for your favorite, or give us a write-in if we managed to overlook your favorite little hole-in-the-wall.

Now, back to Memphis: Co-owner and Tennessee native Chris George and pit master Redrick Rayborn will be serving Memphis-style (what else?) barbecue, which means lots of pork smoked with hickory and finished over a hickory-fired grill. The kitchen, which expects to go through a cord of wood a week, will also serve grilled fish, veggies and other entrees with a Southern accent, though the big draws will be the pulled pork and ribs.

The space itself, decked with lots of red- and dark-finished wood, is simultaneously warm and upscale, hitting a sweet spot that George is aiming for with the entire concept. “We want to be something a little bit different and just a little bit upscale,” he says. “We’re going to be a great place to come on a date night.” The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner Thursday, and plans to add brunch to its repertoire in January.

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